By: Michelle Dodd
My family is as white as Dogwoods. I felt I was pulled from the African Diaspora. My identity crisis started from the switch of my hips, not knowing how to properly take care of my hair. I had to learn, the best parts of me are not wedged in between adoptions letters.
I thought brown meant scar, meant closed, meant to adopt as many white characteristics as possible. I used Mederma all over, I thought lightening creme was the solution, because I thought all of me was a scar.
When you don’t look like your family,
you tend to be in the middle of the photos,
for the balancing act,
as if to say,
the family still needs to be symmetrical,
because if you’re going to be a smudge,
you might as well be the one in the middle,
so it looks intentional.
I am afraid of opening doors that were glued shut in picture frames. I am afraid of picking the lock, being called an intruder by my mother, thinking I came to rob her of what joy she has held onto.
When I was younger,
I would knock on any closed door,
thinking my heritage was listening, just on the other side
just a door knob turn away.
My birth mother chose a closed adoption. I’ve been wanting to open it, but, I don’t have the right set of hands. I can’t remember how to turn the damn knob.
I just end up pushing, because it's comforting, to lean on something and know it’s not going anywhere. It’s comforting that the door won’t split.
I don’t want to break my birth mother, but my birth records are a blackout poem, I am a cryptogram with no key.
Michelle Dodd is a spoken word artist based out of Richmond, Virginia. She has performed for TedxWomenRVA in 2016. She is a fellow of The Watering Hole Writing Retreat and Winter Tangerine. She was one of the coaches, for the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) CUPSI slam team for 2018, that placed 3rd internationally. Dodd has been published in Whurk Magazine, K'in Literary Journal, The Scene and Heard Journal, SWWIM, Wusgood, and others. She has self published two chapbooks of poetry in 2017.